Flames 2012 First Round Targets: Hampus Lindholm



Way, way back in 2009, the Calgary Flames drafted a talented Swedish defender. That defender, Tim Erixon, decided against signing a pro contract with the Flames and prepared to re-enter the 2011 draft. In one of the more impressive feats of his general managerial tenure with Calgary, Jay Feaster swung a deal that garnered three assets (forward Roman Horak and two second round picks, used to take Tyler Wotherspoon and Markus Granlund) for the rights to Tim Erixon and disaster was averted.

Scouting Report

 Now, if that ordeal hasn’t soured the Flames on drafting Swedish defensemen, they may want to take a long look at Hampus Lindholm. In many ways, he’s the 2012 model of Tim Erixon.

Lindholm is not a giant. He’s 6-2, but he’s only 185 pounds. He’s got a big frame, but he’s not especially heavy or physical. That said, he moves well and he’s exhibited great vision in his recent play. He split last season between Rogle BK’s junior and professional teams. He had 17 points in 28 appearances with the junior squad, which led to him spending the latter part of the year with the pro group.

Despite being a youngster playing against men in Sweden’s secondary Allsvenskan league, he put up 4 points in 20 games. More impressively, he had 5 points in 10 games in Sweden’s relegation playoffs, which helped Rögle win the tournament and get promoted to Elitserien for the 2012-13 season. In-between these efforts, he had 4 points and won a silver medal with Team Sweden’s entry at the IIHF Under-18 World Championships. Not bad for a teenager.

Corey Pronman of Hockey Prospectus had this to say about Hampus Lindholm:

Lindholm got notably better as the season went on, as the big, toolsy defender certainly looked appealing at the end of the season. Lindholm is a high-end skater who excels in the transition game. He is very effective at bringing the puck up the length of the ice and for a man his size his skating ability can be quite eye-popping. He has offensive ability as a puck-mover, as he has pretty good vision and knows how to create plays, be it from outlets or dishes off the rush. However, his pure puck skills are about average, maybe a tad more.

In terms of his physical game, he’s above average although I’ve heard some scouts say he’s high-end physically, while some say he’s about average and doesn’t use his body that well. He’s bigger than most players and he rubs people off the puck at a notable enough level to be effective in that area of the game.

Lindholm’s defensive hockey sense is where he needs the most work, as he’s not bad in that area but he has his off moments. He does have good offensive instincts and vision, so there is potential that this problem could go away, but he does tend to look a little raw at times with his decisions in his own end or his overall positioning.”

Strengths: Mobility, vision, puck-moving, transition game

Weaknesses: Puck handling, hockey sense, defensive game

While all of the talk of this year’s draft class has been dominated with the big-name North American defenders (Murray, Trouba, Reinhart, Ceci, Reilly, Maatta…), it’s possible that Lindholm has fallen through the cracks. That’s likely going to result in a hockey club having a very good puck-moving blueliner fall into their laps. Moreover, unlike all the North American defenders, Lindholm has already spent time playing (and excelling) against grown men in a professional league. While Tim Erixon had more games and slightly better numbers in his draft year than Lindholm (and also played at the World Juniors that season), Lindholm projects to develop into a similar kind of player, albeit possibly with a bit lower ceiling.

Probable Target?

For a Calgary Flames club a bit lacking in defensive prospects outside of, uh, John Ramage and Tyler Wotherspoon, Lindholm could be a pretty good acquisition. However, because the top-end of this draft is dominated by a lot of blueliners, It will depend on who is left on the board when the Flames step up to the podium this Friday if they take Lindholm or not. He will very likely still be available at 14, and the Flames will have their eyes on him if he’s the best defender still around by then.

Probability he will be around by 14: Very High

Probability Flames will pick him: Low-to-Moderate

 The Targets List

  • Much like Aberg, Lindholm is a guy I would love to see the Flames draft provided they do so by trading down and picking up an asset.

    That being said, it seems like he’s not too far off from some the defenseman who could be available at 14, like Ceci and Maata. If the scouting staff rates him better than what’s available at 14 I have no problem taking him there, but if we can pick up some assets and get Lindholm it would be a great move.

    All in all in I’m looking forward to the draft. It seems like its going to be very fluid and that a lot experts mocks could be wayyy off. Heres hoping the Flames can take advantage of some poor talent evaluation by other teams and grab another Sven.

  • T&A4Flames

    YOu know, I’m looking at the “target list” at the bottom of this writing, and I’m just not that thrilled with any of these names other than, maybe, Trouba; possibly Girgensons. If this is all that is available at 14, trade down because guys like Aberg, Koekkoek and the like will be available in the low 20’s, me thinks.

  • T&A4Flames

    Yeah I’m fine with Koekkoek, Lindholm, and Aberg in the twenties. Aberg is more of a risk in my mind though. Also, if we traded down to the low teens, should we consider taking Matt Finn? By the way, if my memory serves me correctly Pronman had Lindholm at 14.

  • This is a hard draft to project for two reasons:

    #1: The European pool is much shallower than is usually is (you’re looking at Forsberg, Teravainen, Collberg, Lindholm and MAYBE Hertl and Aberg as far as first rounders go). Of those, Forsberg and Teravainen will definitely be gone by 14.

    #2: Behold the upper-echelon of North Americans, it’s a wide-open field. Hard to tell who’ll be left at 14 there, too.

    A strong European contingent last year allowed the Flames to get Sven Baertschi, ranked 7th among North American skaters by Central Scouting, at 13. This year it’s possible that CSS’s #10 North American, Griffin Reinhart, will be long gone when the Flames pick.

  • MC Hockey

    Not sure picking a D-man in the first round is in the Flames plans given all the “older but inexperienced” guys available for the team’s blueline like Clay Wilson (now on 1-way contract), Derek Smith, Brian Connelly (UFA), and even Brett Carson (1-way). However, if JBo is gone and Hannan and Sarich both allowed to walk then perhaps it’s more likely as you would only have D-studs in Gio and Brodie.

    However, if Dumba or Reinhart fell to 14, perhaps yes you take that guy.

    I would rather see Russian forward Grigorenko to Flames if he falls that far, given his star potential and the fact that many reviews of him says nothing to little bad despite dropping him in rank.

    More likely, and hopefully, the Flames get a character guy with skill like Latvian forward Zemgus Girgensons. He reminds me of Baertschi in terms of character and personality, you may agree if you read up on him if you see previous Nation article on him (and especially the link in it to the US article).

  • I'm Just Sayin'

    This could be an interesting Friday evening. I can see the Flames swapping position, not once but maybe even twice and stay in the first round ++. There are some interesting kids at the back end of the first round (Matteau, Sammuelson) who might give us some much needed jam.